North Carolina Teacher Pay is Still 39th And Why The Cost Of Living Adjustment Argument is Erroneous

John Hood of the John Locke Foundation tweeted the following yesterday in response to the NEA’s recent report on teacher pay that had North Carolina still well below the national average.

hood1

Interestingly, he tagged it to #nced and referred all readers to a recent post by his colleague Dr. Terry Stoops, the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies for the John Locke Foundation. He must have wanted a lot of people to read this.

The John Locke Foundation is a libertarian-leaning think tank whose findings and studies on North Carolina’s public schools is so bent toward a political ideology that celebrates “school choice” and vouchers that it tends to spin data and research so much that it hopes readers will not take the time to actually look into the data themselves.

Stoops writes in his post,

Earlier today, the National Education Association (NEA) released their annual Rankings and Estimates report.  According to the report, North Carolina’s average teacher salary for 2018 ranked 39th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

But the NEA ranking does not adjust for cost of living.  When C2ER cost-of-living indices for 2017 are applied, North Carolina’s rank jumps to 29th in the nation.  Last year, North Carolina’s cost-of-living adjusted average salary was 33rd in the nation (https://lockerroom.johnlocke.org/2018/04/23/adjusted-teacher-pay-rank-29th-in-the-nation/).

Stoops then presents a table that uses the C2ER index for each state.

table1

And if one took Stoops’s interpretation at face value, then he is exactly right.

The Cost of Living Index used by Stoops is represented in the map below that the C2ER uses (https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/).

map

But Stoops simplifies it too much. Even C2ER says so.

C2ER stands for the Council for Community and Economic Research and it even warns against using the cost of living index in such a broad stroke as Stoops has done. Within its 2017 Cost of Living Index, it states,

“For 23 years, participation in the Cost of Living
Index was open to all places, regardless of size.
In the late 1980s, however, several rural places
with very small populations began
participating, and it became apparent that
adherence to the specifications in many such
places wasn’t possible. There’s no doubt that
small rural places offer an alternative to an
urban professional or managerial standard of
living that many people find attractive, but such
places are qualitatively different from urban
areas, and they simply don’t support the kind of
urban lifestyle embodied in the Cost of Living
Index.

The Committee has concluded that
participation in the Index should be restricted to
areas that can reasonably be considered urban
and patterned its restrictions after the federal
government’s distinction between urban and
rural areas.”

You can read that document here: http://coli.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-COLI-Manual.pdf. The above is on page 4. In fact, the the C2ER site actually prefers that the index be used when comparing cities to cities – not state to state.

C2ER

The very warning that C2ER gives in using its COL Index is deliberately ignored by Stoops in order that he keep on his shallow narrative that teacher pay in North Carolina is not all that bad.

Take this a little deeper and one can see that another factor Stoops conveniently ignores is that average teacher pay in North Carolina varies LEA to LEA. Local supplements that are given to teachers in some counties are much better than in other localities because those places can afford to do that. That creates a wider disparity in salaries for teachers within the state.

Metropolitan LEA’s like Wake County can give a bigger salary boost to teachers than many of the rural counties, some of whom cannot give a local supplement at all. And Stoops as well as Hood should know that rural counties suffer more when it comes to staffing schools.

This simplification of the data is not an oversight. It’s part of a plan – a deliberate attempt to sway the narrative to favor those who see simply investing in the public school system at a reasonable rate a burden.

So when Hood says in his tweet, “Even if you disagree, here’s where we really are,” it seems that he doesn’t really know where we are.

 

Happy Birthday to Coach Murphy – The Titan of Titans

A “Happy Birthday” to a multi-sport coach, a man of many hats, a well of positivity, an icon of a school, the most dependable staff member, and a man who defines others by the smiles they give.

A “Happy Birthday” to a man who always treats you like it was your birthday – every day.

I hope there will be 59 more for Coach Murph, and when I am his age, I hope I am as young as he is.

See you at school, Murph.

Murphy

Why Local School Board Elections Are So Important in 2018

school-board-elections

Of all the political signs already spread throughout the city where I reside, at least three of four deal with local school board elections.

This is not an anomaly. I cannot remember a time in an election cycle in which the majority of roadside political signs of local and state office did not refer to the school board elections. Those elections are that important because so much is at stake.

The largest part of a state’s budget tends to be toward public education. A major part of a school board’s (city or county) identity is how it helps students achieve within what resources and funds are available. In North Carolina, where a state general assembly tends to pass more fiscal responsibility to LEA’s (think class size mandate), a school board’s calling to help all students achieve must be met by those who truly understand what best helps schools and students.

No wonder school board elections are so important.

At the heart of a school board’s responsibilities are supporting a selected superintendent, guiding the creation of policies and curriculum, making sure there are adequate facilities, and seeing that budgetary needs are met.

That means understanding what students, teachers, and support staff need. That means understanding how schools operate and how they are affected by mandates and laws that come from Raleigh. And when policies that are handed down from the state that may not treat the local system favorably, then the school board must confront those in Raleigh and help fight for what is best for the local students.

There are 115 LEA’s in North Carolina – lots of school boards who should know their students best and know what obstacles that their schools face which need to be removed.

But what if one of those obstacles is the North Carolina General Assembly? Consider a per-pupil expenditure rate that is lower when adjusted for inflation than before the Great Recession. Consider the lack of textbook funds and overcrowded buildings and state mandates for testing that take many school days away from instruction. Consider the funding of unproven reforms like an Innovative School District and vouchers. Consider the growth of unregulated charter schools. Consider teacher pay and local supplements. Consider that there is a drastic reduction in teacher candidates in our universities. That is just a small list.

All of that brings to light what might be one of the most important jobs that a school board must undertake: it must be willing to challenge the state in an explicit and overt manner on matters that directly affect their local schools.

In a state where almost 1 in 4 students lives in poverty and where Medicaid was not extended to those who relied on such services, schools are drastically affected as students who walk into schools bring in their life challenges. If student achievement is a primary responsibility of a school board, whatever stands in the way of students being able to achieve becomes an issue that a school board must confront.

So, is the person whose name is on a political sign for school board candidacy willing to fight for our schools even if it means confronting Raleigh’s policies?

That might be the first question I might ask of any candidate for local school board – the first of many.

Phil Berger’s “Historic” Spin on Teacher Pay – Empty and Deliberate

From Phil Berger’s Twitter account in May of 2014:

Berger1

From the July 31st edition of the New York Times:

The Republican-controlled Senate’s 32-to-13 vote came after weeks of tense negotiations that divided the Republican Party and provoked intraparty accusations of political grandstanding. The Senate was expected to hold its final vote on the budget early Friday, clearing the way for the House of Representatives, which the Republicans also control, to consider it.

Senate Republicans framed the measure as historic, largely because it includes $282 million to increase teacher salaries (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/01/us/north-carolina-teachers-may-see-raise-in-budget.html) .

And now four years later:

North Carolina ranks 37th in the nation for average teacher pay, according to estimates released Monday by the National Education Association.

The estimate may be revised later based on updated data. Last year, NEA first estimated that North Carolina was 35th in the nation for teacher pay, but it revised the numbers to show that N.C. was 39th last year.

NEA’s report, which details everything from teacher pay to school enrollment and funding by state, shows North Carolina’s average teacher salary is $50,861 for the current school year. That’s about $9,600 less than the national average teacher pay of $60,483, according to the report.

Last month, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction estimated that the state’s average teacher pay has reached $51,214 this year. It’s unclear why the state education department’s salary estimate differs from NEA’s.

Among the 12 states in the Southeast, North Carolina currently ranks sixth, according to NEA’s latest estimates. The State Board of Education has set a goal to become No. 1 in the Southeast.

The salary figures represent the average gross salary before deductions for things such as Social Security, retirement and insurance and do not take into account cost-of-living differences among the states.

NEA’s report also estimates that North Carolina is ranked 39th in the nation in per-pupil spending this year. The state is spending $9,528 per student compared with the U.S. average of $11,934.

Last year, NEA first estimated that North Carolina ranked 43rd in per-pupil spending but revised the numbers to show that N.C. was 39th last year as well.

NEA has produced the report for more than 70 years (https://www.wral.com/nc-ranks-37th-in-nation-for-teacher-pay-39th-in-per-pupil-spending/17504331/?version=amp&__twitter_impression=true).

The Office of The NC State Superintendent – Where Doughnuts Are More Important Than Public Schools

If Mark Johnson is willing to run for doughnuts, is he willing to walk with teachers on May 16 in a day for advocacy in support of public schools?

Unfortunately, most teachers in this state already know the answer to that question.

ncae rally

Of all the issues that have surrounded NC and the General Assembly’s assault on the public schools of this state, one would be hard-pressed to find where our state superintendent has made a stand on behalf of the public schools. Consider:

  • per pupil expenditures
  • vouchers
  • unregulated charter schools
  • principal pay plan
  • merit pay
  • removal of due-process rights and graduate school pay
  • revolving door of standardized tests
  • need for more support staff
  • class size chaos

That is just a sampling. Oh, and Johnson and the state school board are still in a court battle concerning a power struggle over public schools. He’s using taxpayer money to fund his legal costs.

Yet with all of the lack of action on behalf of Johnson on really pressing issues, he has spent quite an amount of energy on … doughnuts.

This is the last missive teachers have received from the state superintendent in our inboxes this past week. It has been the subject of the last few communications between Johnson and public school teachers.

Educators:
I wanted to send you a wrap-up message about the 2018 Teachers Working Conditions Survey. Thank you to the nearly 110,000 school-based educators across the state who completed the survey. That gives us a final completion rate of 90.54 percent – the highest ever for North Carolina!
The results of the survey should be available about five weeks from now. We’ll send you a link when it’s up.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Now, the last piece of business we have is my wager with you that if we reached 95 percent completion, I would complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge – 2.5 miles, 12 doughnuts, 2.5 miles. We didn’t quite make it, although we did come within 0.41 percent of beating Kentucky’s mark for best-ever completion rate. But I am very proud that 109,449 of you took the time to take the survey. That is an amazing number and a true testament to your dedication to your profession.
So I’ll call it a split decision: I’ll run the race. As to how many doughnuts I’ll eat in the middle of the race, we’ll see…
Thanks again, and as always, know that we appreciate everything you do for North Carolina’s students.

That questionnaire really does nothing to address the very issues that plague North Carolina’s public schools because of the treatment by those in the NCGA. You can reference that questionnaire and an explanation of what it does not do here: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2018/04/03/somethings-wrong-with-the-north-carolina-dpis-teacher-working-conditions-survey/.

It is rather ironic that Johnson wants to have beaten a state in its “response to a questionnaire” that actually saw its teachers rally in great numbers on its state capital.

But what is most ironic is that the man who is supposed to be the educational leader wants to talk about what he will eat in a race next year rather than advocate for the students and schools he is supposed to support.

 

Dear North Carolina Lawmaker, Exactly What is the Job Description of a Public School Teacher?

Almost four years ago, Sen, David Curtis delivered a rather uneducated response to a letter from a young teacher in which he outlined a close-minded viewpoint of the teaching profession (http://wunc.org/post/teacher-email-legislators-draws-harsh-reply#stream/0).

Needless to say, it garnered quite a response from teachers around the state.

Other public education critics have gone out of their way to express a narrow-minded take on the teaching profession. For instance:

tim-peck-tweet

Actually, the answer to that is over $100,000. I did the math here: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/09/20/so-whats-the-market-rate-for-an-unaccountable-degree-holding-babysitter-i-assume-he-meant-teachers/.

In a state where the teaching profession has undergone assault after assault from lawmakers, many in Raleigh pin their opinions of teacher and school performance on test results and financial bottom lines. They then craft policies that match those opinions.

So I want to ask a non-rhetorical question of any lawmaker in North Carolina (and actually anyone else), what exactly is the job description of a North Carolina public school teacher?

This is by no means a loaded question or one that is asked to create a nebulous web of answers that would cloud the actual debate. But if public education is to be an issue that defines another session of the NC General Assembly, that decides votes in a huge election year, and that all people already have some sort of stake in, then what the role of a public school teacher in North Carolina might need to be more understood.

Is it to deliver curriculum and teach mastery?

Is it to help students grow into productive citizens?

Is it to “teach” the whole child – intellectually, mentally, emotionally, etc.

Is it to get students to pass standardized tests?

Is it to keep students safe?

Is it all all of those things and much more?

Below is a screenshot from the statutes of the General Assembly concerning the “duties” of teachers.

duties of teachers

They include a variety of “duties,” some more defined than others: discipline, “teaching,” reporting, provide for well-being, medical care, keep order, etc.

Now throw in some other factors and variables that have a direct effect on those “duties” like poverty, hunger, sickness, apathy, lack of resources, overcrowding, and respect for the profession. It makes those duties in the above statute seem a little more expansive.

So, what is the real job description of a public high school teacher in North Carolina that considers the defined duties, expectations, and realities of public educators? And are you willing to share that as a lawmaker who makes decisions on how teachers are resourced, treated, and viewed? If not, then you might need to educate yourself.

And if you are willing, are you ready to hear from teachers the truth?

But after all the platitudes, accolades, and lip service that so many in Raleigh have paid to the teaching profession, every lawmaker must ask him/herself, what is it really worth?

Because teachers in other states are speaking very loudly.

The Greatest Compliment Ever Paid To A Teacher

appleWhen a former student sends you a kind email years after he has left your classroom and graduated,

When you receive wedding invitations from former students,

When you are sent a Christmas Card from the family of a former student,

When a former student walks into your classroom just to watch how you still teach,

When you have mementos strewn across the classroom from students of long ago,

When former students send Facebook posts and friend requests after they have grown up,

When a current student who is a younger sibling of a former student says that the family still talks about your class,

When a family asks you to say a few words at a funeral for a former student,

When a former student emails you to ask about what books are on your reading lists,

When a former student ask your advice on a life matter,

When a former student sees you in a grocery store and still addresses you as Mr. XXXX,

When a current student sits in your room to do work because it is a safe place,

When a current student asks you to write a recommendation on their behalf because your words mean something,

When a current student takes another one of your classes,

When your current students have t-shirts made with your face on them to wear on the day of their AP Test,

When a former student sends you a gorilla mask because she still remembers and laughs at the story you told about a gorilla from college,

When current students tell you about plays or concerts they are performing in,

When students want to have their picture taken with you,

When a student and her family see you in a public place they approach and introduce themselves,

When nearly 200 students volunteer for a service project because you asked for help,

When former students send copies of their papers they wrote in college complete with the stellar grade from the professor,

When former students send bound copies of their theses from graduate school,

When you get a Thank You note from a former student years after they graduate,

When former students introduce you to their own children,

Then you have been paid the greatest compliment that a teacher can get.

You Know You Are a Middle-Aged Public School Teacher When…

funny_teacher_tie-rf5c274fcc1ef4cbc8d353884adfa1fe5_v9whb_8byvr_195

You Know You Are a Middle-Aged Public School Teacher When…

  1. You pull a hamstring going up the stairs right after a fire drill.
  2. You make a reference to a movie that a student claims that his parent may have seen.
  3. You fondly look back at the time when there were no cellphones in the classroom.
  4. You realize that you are three times older than some of the students in your room.
  5. You realize that you are older than some of your students’ parents.
  6. You see a school picture of yourself from early in your career and you do not recognize it.
  7. You see that a fashion style from when you were in high school has come back in vogue.
  8. You have your own child attend the high school where you work.
  9. You are asked by a student what you looked like when you had a full head of hair.
  10. You tell students that the shorts you wore when you played basketball in high school were really shorts.
  11. You have school bells go off in your head on the weekends.
  12. You still have VHS tapes of the movies you show with novels.
  13. You have neighbors who come to you to ask what certain sayings they hear teenagers say just might mean.
  14. You receive AARP invitations in the mail.
  15. You laugh at jokes that no one else in class has a reference point for.
  16. Your hair has been naturally more than one color in your career.
  17. You are the slowest texter in the room.
  18. Every student hears your knees pop when you get out of a chair.
  19. You have seen a student pass out, go into labor, barf, scream, and cry in the same week.
  20. You remember as a student that the person who made copies had purple ink on his hands.
  21. You need new letters in the English language to create all of the acronyms that you have come across in education.
  22. You can eat your lunch in ten minutes while grading papers and think nothing of it.
  23. You have received 30 coffee cups as present from students and used every one of them.
  24. You love the laminating machine.
  25. You understand what herding cats is like.
  26. You understand that the series “Breaking Bad” really is about the need to pay teachers more.
  27. You wish that schools brought back recess time for all students.
  28. You can make Princess Bride allusions and students know what you are talking about.
  29. You have enough holiday ties for the entire month of December.
  30. Your students poke fun at you for having an old iPod Shuffle.
  31. You remember there were not standardized tests every quarter.

West Jones Street, The NC General Assembly, and The Eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg

eyes2

“But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic — their irises are one-yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground” (The Great Gatsby, Chapter 2).

Almost every student who passes through an American literature class has the opportunity to at least glimpse into the classic text of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In a day and age of instant gratification and movie adaptations, plot lines and lists of symbols are easily accessed, the patience needed to be pleasantly haunted by a work of true literature sometimes escapes even the best of intentions.

But Gatsby is a book that is rather quick to read, easy to absorb, and forever reflected upon. Among my junior English classes, whether AP level or not, Gatsby tends to be the favorite. Students feel smarter for having read it. They despise the right people. They wrestle with the shallowness of the characters. They seem to like the character who spent so much time becoming the person he was not. They sometimes come to look at a narrator as unreliable.

And they pick up on the symbols like the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.

When someone sits for a picture or portrait and stares straight into the lens, the result is the appearance of constant eye contact. The poster of James Baldwin in my classroom as he looks into the camera allows his eyes to always make contact with mine no matter where I am in the classroom. His smile, however, takes away any preclusion of judgement.

But the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg simply stare without any other expression. They are there to judge. They are the “eyes of God” in a society where many in power lack a moral compass, show spiritual depravity but scream religious fervor, and worship profit more than the welfare of others.

eyes1

They never blink.

They always look.

They seem to see all.

I followed him over a low whitewashed railroad fence, and we walked back a hundred yards along the road under Doctor Eckleburg’s persistent stare (Chapter 2).

I am thinking of starting a GoFundMe Page to raise money to construct another billboard for the obviously deceased and still fictional Doctor T. J. Eckleburg complete with the same “blue and gigantic” eyes with “irises one-yard high” on “no face” complete with “a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose.”

And this billboard would be placed right outside of the North Carolina General Assembly building on West Jones Street, possibly near the parking area where each lawmaker who leaves the building would have to lock eyes with the celestial oculist after a day of wielding power that affects so many people.

“I spoke to her,” he muttered, after a long silence. “I told her she might fool me but she couldn’t fool God. I took her to the window.”— with an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned with his face pressed against it ——” and I said ‘God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God!’”

Standing behind him, Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged, pale and enormous, from the dissolving night (Chapter 8).

Amazingly enough, if you were to visit the webpages of most of these lawmakers during election periods you might find some sort of piety meter that reflects their allegiance to a faith in God and Christian tenets.

We are in the Bible Belt. We are in a nation that calls itself Christian. We are by far the most evangelical country in the world. We are used to hearing people talk about how they bare their souls to God and look to God for guidance.

Yet,

  • Lawmakers passed a resolution to repeal a discriminatory law called HB2 that still allows for discrimination.
  • Lawmakers are playing with bills like HB13 that are forcing public school systems to contemplate how to keep vital arts programs alive and keep teacher assistants in classrooms that are already crowded in years to come.
  • Lawmakers are funneling more money to religious private schools like Trinity Christian which is guilty of embezzlement and shoddy accounting.
  • Lawmakers are refusing to expand Medicaid that would help more North Carolinians.
  • Lawmakers considered measures like HB467 to keep NC residents from suing industrial farms for polluting their air and water.
  • Lawmakers are not holding companies accountable for coal ash spills and GenX contamination.
  • Lawmakers are considering increasing health care costs for state employees while bragging about “surpluses.”

I understand. It may be a tad bit hyperbolic to equate a book that talks of a man who uses organized crime to build a life of opulence during the “Jazz Age” / “Age of Prohibition” in an attempt to control destiny who ends up crossing paths with a man of immense wealth who steamrolls over people because he can and looks at women and minorities as inferior then eventually gets killed by a mentally, spiritually, and financially crushed man to a modern setting.

Or is it?

By the way, the original billboard for Dr. Eckleburg is in the “Valley of Ashes.” Imagine if those ashes got into the water.

eyes2

In some places, they have.

Writing in Stream of Unconsciousness – John Hood’s Latest Op-Ed on Public Education in NC

Most times, I look forward to reading John Hood’s perspectives on education in North Carolina. They reaffirm my stances on what is happening in the Old North State and its public schools.

Needless to say, I usually disagree with his stances. I also wonder sometimes at his lack of clarity.

Yet there are instances where there is no clarity at all. It’s almost reading stream of unconsciousness.  Consider his latest missive from the News & Observer, “Spending more on K-12 schools might not be the smart move” (http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article208990409.html).

I do not have Hood’s bandwidth. As the president of the John William Pope Foundation and the past chairman (still on Board of Directors) for the John Locke Foundation, Hood serves as the mouthpiece of Art Pope, the leader of the Civitas Group and considered by many to be the biggest financier in North Carolina of ultra-conservative politics.

John Hood will be heard. Too many microphones have been bought to be placed near his mouth.

But I have my blog and a teacher voice.

I find most everything that Hood writes about public education to be extremely slanted (not surprising), yet smugly conciliatory, as if he is appeasing the more liberal people into thinking he wants what they want from our state government. He seems to want to take a moral high road, ask for civil discussion, insert the opinions of those who pay him, and then take credit for having called for the conversation.

In an op-ed posted on EdNC.org entitled “School reform is good economics”, Hood begins,

 

Liberals and conservatives disagree about means, not about the ultimate ends — and often, even our disagreements on the means of school improvement are more about priorities and details, not about basic concepts. I know these policy debates will continue for years to come. I welcome them.

In the meantime, however, it’s worth devoting more attention to those ultimate ends.”

It’s as if he is saying, “Hey, I want what you want!” but then is thinking, “But I just want to help my cronies make money from it all.”

This is the same with the recent N&O op-ed. Except after reading it many times, I am still trying to figure out what the hell it is talking about.

In it, Hood tries to explain how the recent NAEP score report for North Carolina actually shows that NC should not spend more money in per pupil expenditures. He begins by making a point that poverty has an effect on student scores. Then he talks about Massachusetts who leads the nation in scores. They also spend more on per-pupil expenditures.

“Conservatives, while recognizing and admiring the high level of achievement in Massachusetts, point out complexities. They note, for example, that the composition of the test-taking population clearly affects a state’s average score. States with relatively low poverty rates tend to populate the top third of the student-achievement list. High-poverty states tend to populate the bottom third.”

Ever see Hood argue to help poverty levels in North Carolina? He just simply goes off on more equivocation exercises.

“If we look at the 2017 NAEP reading and math scores just for eighth-grade students with household incomes low enough to qualify them for free or reduced-price school lunches, Massachusetts still fares well. It’s one of only eight states — along with Idaho, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming — where low-income students outperform the national average (to a statistically significant degree) in both subjects.”

North Carolina has a profound rate of poverty. Hood might want to explore those numbers more deeply in comparison to those other states he mentions. He might also want to consider the vast amounts of date breakdown that paints a clearer picture.

Read further and you sense the circular reasoning. Actually it’s not circular. It’s more like a broken circuit or an array of tangential non-sequiturs. From Massachusetts to poverty to national averages to indirect evidence to ” raw data don’t represent causal evidence in either direction” Hood rambles on to apparently nowhere.

Usually when data does not favor Hood’s agenda, he simply flies above it and looks at it from a hazy height and paints it with a pleasant hue. That what he tries to do with the NEAP scores just released.

What the NEAP scores for North Carolina really show is that whites in more affluent suburban area schools tend to outperform minorities. Students who receive services for disabilities and those who receive free-reduced lunches tend to have lower scores.

And those NEAP scores have flat-lined over the past few years and that coincides with the education reforms that Hood and his cronies favor – the very reforms that Hood uses cherry-picked numbers to show that they are “helping” our state regain prominence in the country. I have written about these  assertions before and those of his contemporary, Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation, on this blog before. These following are links to those posts, and please note that they were written in response to something written by Hood and Stoops.

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/04/13/unlockeing-the-john-locke-foundation-dr-terry-stoops-and-charter-schools/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/04/16/unlockeing-the-john-locke-foundation-teachers-and-advanced-degrees/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/05/17/open-letter-to-john-hood-unlockeing-the-john-locke-foundation-part-3/

If you read these posts and the pieces written by Hood and Stoops that inspired these posts, you will see that both Hood and Stoops reside in the gray nebula of lack of explanation and platitudes. Their love of broad statements and sweeping assertions really are a smokescreen for a political agenda that wants to further priviatize public education here in North Carolina.

 

Because that is what has happened in North Carolina.

We are spending less per pupil now than we did years ago, and years ago we in North Carolina had what was considered the strongest public school system in the Southeast. Our teacher pay (no it is not better as the GOP claims for veteran teachers) is still in the lowest tier of the nation. Politicians have created grading systems that repeatedly cast public schools in a bad light to create the excuse for the very reforms that Hood champions.

Do not forget that John Hood works for Art Pope, who was the architect of the first Pat McCrory budget and campaigned to remove due-process rights from veteran teachers. He succeeded in removing them from newer teachers as well as removing graduate pay bumps – things that Hood has made hollow arguments for in the past (see referenced posts above).

But I digress. Hood ends his N&O oped with this:

“So, let’s talk about more than Massachusetts and budget math. Let’s go deeper.”

 

I think that is pure bullshit.

If you know anything about what has happened in North Carolina in the last six years with teacher evaluation protocols, teacher salaries, removal of due-process, unregulated charter school growth, vouchers, and ideas for merit pay, then you see an ALEC-based blue print for what people like Art Pope have financed and John Hood has vocally championed.

And then ask, are these “re-forms” really working?

And then ask Hood “What the hell are you really talking about?”